It turns out Devin Booker needed much more than just stitches to fix his nasal situation.
After taking an accidental head-butt from Clippers guard Patrick Beverley in the Suns’ Game 2 win, the Phoenix star was left bloodied on the floor, and his nose swelled up to an alarming degree. Booker told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols ahead of Thursday’s Game 3 that his nose had been broken in three places and had to be reset by doctors.
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“[Getting it reset] was probably the worst part,” Booker said during his postgame media availability. “It was a procedure that they usually say they put you under [anesthesia] for. But we had a flight out a couple hours later, so they just numbed it up, all over the place it felt like, like eight shots to numb it up. Then they go in there, and they put it back. They break it again. They break it back in place. That was my first time experiencing that, but they said Cam Johnson went through it, so I knew I could.”
“They say Cam Johnson went through it so I knew I could.”
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) June 25, 2021
To avoid further injury, Booker donned a mask in Game 3, but unfortunately for the Suns, Booker didn’t receive any magic mask powers like players of the past. The two-time All-Star struggled in the Clippers’ 106-92 win, scoring just 15 points on 5-of-21 shooting. He didn’t blame the mask for the performance, saying his nose felt “fine” and crediting the defense of Beverley.
“He’s ultra-aggressive. He’s denying, limiting touches,” Booker said. “He has one objective out there, and we understand that. I feel like other things should open up, and we have to look at the film and see what’s open and see what we can get.”
Booker did note that he had turned to the most prominent mask-wearer in league history for advice. Former Pistons guard Richard “Rip” Hamilton, who began regularly wearing a plastic mask during the 2003-04 season after breaking his nose multiple times, told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears that he received a call from Booker on Tuesday.
“I did talk to ‘Rip’ about it,” Booker said. “I’ve been preaching for a long time he’s my favorite player of all time. I’ve had short conversations with him in the past, and I thought this was the perfect time to talk to him some more and get some advice. He chopped it up with me for a minute, gave me some great feedback, put me in the right mindset to go out there. . . . He said he stuck with it because putting on his [mask] put him in character. He felt comfortable getting in the paint, felt like he had extra protection, had an extra layer.
“He said just don’t worry about it, don’t take it off when you shoot free throws, just don’t let it be a distraction to you.”
Well, if nothing else, Booker did go 4 of 4 at the free throw line. He just has to be better from everywhere else in Game 4.